And here we go! Sharon Owens and DD, you are our two randomly generated winners!!!! Lori will be in contact soon! Congrats!!!
Today I’d like to welcome a great friend as well as a great author to Women and Words! I’ve known Lori L. Lake going on…oh man. Ten years now? Something like that. Dang, time flies! She’s been an inspiration as we well as a kick-ass teacher. Lori’s got a brand-spanking new anthology out: Lesbians on the Loose, Crime Writers on the Lam, and it’s co-edited by none other than yours truly! What an awesome learning experience, and holy cow. What great stories we scored from a bunch of amazing writers. I figured this was the perfect time to do a little mind excavating, and virtually sat down with Lori to find out more! Drop us a comment for a chance of a free book (e-book only for international winners) and I’ll draw a couple of lucky winners Monday, May 18th.
JESSIE CHANDLER: Yo Lori L. Lake!!!!! Congratulations on the publication of LESBIANS ON THE LOOSE.
LLL: Thank you – and thanks *to* you. You did a lot of great work helping me to edit it.
JC: Oh yeah. I do good once in awhile. LOL! It was fun. So…why don’t you tell our crazy, awesome readers what the impetus was for pulling together this crime anthology? Don’t you love I used that big word?
LORI L. LAKE: You never cease to amaze! What was the question again? You’re kind of distracting. In a good way, of course J Oh yes. The impetus. I know so many excellent crime fiction writers, and I wanted to create a collection that featured them. LESBIANS ON THE LOOSE sounded like a fun title (referring to both the authors and protagonists <g>), but the sub-title also seems important: CRIME WRITERS ON THE LAM. Some of the authors in the collection don’t write only mysteries or they tend to write crime fiction with suspense elements or romantic intrigue rather than typical, traditional mysteries.
JC: Do tell more!
LLL: Lynn Ames, for instance, considers the story in this collection to be her first mystery, and at least three of the authors tend to write in a law enforcement environment, but their novels are mostly classified as suspense or romance with a twist rather than “mystery.” Everyone brought something different to the table from their crime writing experience, and I think we wound up with a varied and fascinating anthology because of it.
JC: I must admit—although I’ve read more than a few lesbian crime stories here and there over the years, I haven’t seen many collections like LESBIANS ON THE LOOSE.
LLL: True. There aren’t too many. The only recent one I can think of off the top of my head is that excellent collection JM Redmann and Greg Herren put together called WOMEN OF THE MEAN STREETS: Lesbian Noir. But that was four years ago. I figured it was time for a new offering, and with your help, it came together nicely.
JC: Thanks! It was great to read the stories from idols of mine like JM Redmann and Elizabeth Sims. The lesfic world has some great crime writers. Katherine V. Forrest, to whom the anthology is dedicated, was the pioneer, wasn’t she?
LLL: Absolutely. She gets a lot of credit for kick-starting the mystery genre for us. Her first mystery, AMATEUR CITY, came out in 1984 and showcased the first lesbian professional detective ever in print, Kate Delafield, a former Marine and an LAPD homicide detective. To top that off, Katherine was a pioneer in three genres: romance, mystery, and feminist sci-fi.
JC: I love that she’s still around to enjoy the explosion of lesbian lit. She *so* deserves that. Tell us a little more about the mysterious history of lesbians in the world of mystery.
LLL: I talked about this a bit in the anthology’s introduction. So much crime fiction is being published by lesbian authors nowadays that many young readers find it hard to believe that it’s only a recent phenomenon. ANGEL DANCE, published in 1977 by M. F. Beal, was the first novel of its kind. The book featured a lesbian Latina PI named Kat Guerrera, who was involved in a case that questioned societal dictates about gender, sexual orientation, race, and class. Before 1977, I can’t think of any lesbian characters published in crime fiction, and the lesbians who wanted to achieve publication with mainstream houses (Sandra Scoppettone, for instance) had to write mainstream stuff without any lesbians in it at all.
JC: Until I read your intro, I had no idea. It’s really sad that lesbian mysteries didn’t really come on the scene until the mid-80s.
LLL: I know, right? Totally unacceptable.
JC: Why were gay crime fiction writers outlawed or exiled or whatever?
LLL: The *gay* writers weren’t totally left out. Just the lesbians.
JC: That figures. Good grief. Okay, tell the tale.
LLL: Male authors started creating gay detectives and exploring homosexual themes in print in the early 1960s. There have been various explanations for this, including the ridiculous statement that women’s “consciousness” was slower to be raised, but I don’t think that was it. No offense to amazing mystery trailblazers like Joseph Hansen and Victor Banis, but I think the reason was, quite simply, sexism. The fact of the matter is that we’ll never know how many novels with lesbian characters were submitted to mainstream publishing houses and summarily rejected because of their lesbian content.
JC: That simply sucks. I think the same thing holds true for most women writing about ANY subject. Even today sometimes.
LLL: Exactly. Meridel LeSueur, a famous Minnesota writer from the first half of the 20th Century, was once asked by an editor why she didn’t write more like Hemingway. She commented that she didn’t find that his style or topics applied to her because, “My experiences were not primarily Fishing, Fighting, and F***ing.”
JC: Ha ha ha! That was excellent. I love it when my fellow Minnesotans are so smart.
LLL: Yes, that Meridel was a real lightning bolt. Not a mystery writer, but she wrote damn near everything else. I got to hear her speak once in about 1988, and she was a firecracker, even then in her late 80s.
JC: What got you interested in writing crime fiction?
LLL: I’ve been interested in the genre since I was a kid. I like a puzzle. I like investigations. I very much enjoy action, adventure, and suspense. I tend to like smart sleuths who can’t quite control their curiosity. I’ve enjoyed hundreds and hundreds of crime novels over the years, and seen many TV shows and movies. I get drawn into a good mystery or thriller and since I like to read that myself, it’s one of the things I very much like to write, too.
JC: You are seriously versatile. You write in a number of genres, and each has its own style. Do you prefer one over the other?
LLL: I like variety—not doing books for the same series over and over. I must admit that I’m long overdue to put out a Gun book and an Eye book. I loved the variety of stories in LESBIANS ON THE LOOSE, and in a few years I guess we should do another one.
JC: Yeah, get on that! We can call it LOOSER LESBIANS. <g> When you write, is one genre easier than another? Harder?
LLL: Every book, every plot, poses its own set of issues and problems. They’re all different, but not necessarily easier or harder. If I had to pick one thing that’s not always very easy it would be writing love scenes—actually, sex—or, as Karin Kallmaker calls them: Scenes of Intimacy. Sometimes that’s difficult. Luckily I have a couple of Xena figurines to help with that.
JC: Yeah, you and writing sex. It’s like pulling teeth! You’re joking about the figurines.
LLL: Actually, no. I also have Flinn Ryder from “Tangled.” And Rosie the Riveter.
JC: And you…what? Put them together to see if X would work when doing Z?
LLL: I don’t plot and tell. <g>
JC: The things we learn about people when you don’t expect it! I better stop rolling my eyes before they get stuck that way. You’ve done a mix of short story writing as well as novels. Which of those bad boy formats do you like better?
LLL: I like them both. Short stories take less time, but in some ways they’re harder because you have to be so clear and concise. With a novel, you have loads of time to meander around and enjoy the process. I’ve used this analogy before but it bears repeating. Writing a short story versus writing a novel is like the difference between running a 400-meter sprint and engaging in a week-long automobile road rally. In the first, you truly have to be inordinately well-equipped, fit, and possessed of huge desire; in the latter, you need endurance and you have to sit down an awful lot, and the desire may ebb and wane at times. I won’t say novels are easy in any way, but they don’t require the same intense pain as a short story can.
JC: I couldn’t agree with you more on that point. What stories from LESBIANS ON THE LOOSE have stuck in your head since we finished editing? Are there any scenes from the various pieces in the collection that continue pop into your mind?
LLL: The language in Carsen Taite’s dialogue was really great. JM Redmann’s “The Curious Case of the Disappearing Dildos” cracks me up every time I think of it. I loved the spirit of the YA characters in Andi Marquette’s story, “The Falcone Maltese.”
JC: YES! I read JM’s title and I can’t help but smirk. Andi’s got a great title too.
LLL: Yes, very clever. I loved puzzling through the odd mystery of Kate McLachlan’s story, “Seasons of Deception” which still haunts me a little bit. I look forward to reading the whole novel that she’s written starring the sleuth from her short story. I could go on and on about each and every story. There was so much excellent characterization, and the way these writers managed to pull off their tales in the short form impressed and delighted me.
JC: We absolutely could go on and on to praise every one of the stories at length, but I have to give you the old heave-ho so this interview can be posted. Let me just say that readers ought to snap up the anthology and check out all this good stuff! Do you have some links for where folks can buy it?
LLL: Sure. The ebook is out everywhere. The print book has been a little slower to arrive at the e-tailer sites, but you can order it at any online or physical bookstore. Here are some links:
Bella (Go here first and get it from a great lesbian company!) – http://www.bellabooks.com
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X08X9A2
Kobo – http://tinyurl.com/k9nfrtj
JC: Thanks, Lori! It’s been a hoot-and-a-half, as usual.
LLL: My pleasure! Have a great night.
LORI L. LAKE has been a fan of the crime fiction genre ever since watching reruns of “Perry Mason” and reading Agatha Christie mysteries in her youth. In addition to editing anthologies and writing short story collections, romances, historical fiction, and writing advice books, she writes two crime fictions series: The Gun Series and The Public Eye Series. The first Eye mystery, BUYER’S REMORSE, won a Golden Crown Goldie, and the second, A VERY PUBLIC EYE, won a 2014 Rainbow Award. She has received the prestigious Ann Bannon Award and was honored with the Alice B. Award for her body of work. Her editing skills have yielded a Lambda Literary Finalist in the anthology category for THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS. Lori lives in Portland, Oregon, which she returned to in 2009 after 26 years in snowy Minnesota. Her next mystery release is the fifth book in The Gun Series, GUNPOINT. Her website: www.LoriLLake.com.